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Local Libations: Beet-el-Juice

2011 January 14

by Rene Henry

Beets are the backbone of RecipeRelay this week!  After hearing about Sarah’s Warm Kale Salad with Beets & Feta I was inspired to create a beet, lemon and wine cocktail that I have decided to call the Beet-el-Juice.  I started my beet-y adventure at the Hillcrest Farmers Market, which is located conveniently within walking distance from my home. I found some beautiful beets at Suzie’s Farm stand, where Lucila De Alejandro (the title on her business card is “Head Weed Puller”) schooled me on the flavor differences between the several types of beets they had on offer. I went with the dark red beet because I was looking for a lot of color and the strongest flavor.

CLICK HERE for the full post and recipe!

When I started collecting the ingredients for my cocktail I thought about the natural sweetness of beets and how I didn’t want to overpower the drink with too much sugar. I decided to add fresh lemon juice to balance out the beets and to add another layer of flavor.  For the alcohol component I chose Bear Flag Bright White, a blend of whites from Modesto, California. I had never tried this wine before but it combines Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc and Gewürztraminer and is described as “a crisp and zesty blend,” which sounded perfect for my cocktail. Not only did the wine sound delicious, their bottle art is kick ass! I am an artist and graphic designer and I’m drawn to fun creative wine labels, which doesn’t always lead to good wine, but happily this time it did. I went to their website to find out more information about their winery and their website is AWESOME as well! The Bear Flag wesbite features the artwork of Eduardo Bertone, have fun clicking on the animated links!

Candied Fruit

For the garnish I wanted to do something fun and tasty. I found a recipe online for beet chips, but I wanted to do some experimenting, so I made a couple variations of both beet chips and lemon chips. Here are the garnish options:

Candied Beet Chips –
Slice the cooked beets, reserved from making syrup, into thin slices.
Option 1: dip in sugar or agave syrup and place on cookie sheet.
Option 2: soak in lemon juice for a few minutes; dip in sugar and place on cookie sheet.
Bake at 250F for about an hour.
The ones soaked in lemon juice came out really delicious, they were crispy and light and incorporated both the tart and sweet quality of the drink.

Candied Lemon Chips –
Wash a lemon and cut into thin slices.
Option 1: dip in sugar or agave syrup and place on cookie sheet.
Option 2: soak slices in beet syrup for about 5 minutes (this gives the lemon slices a nice red color), dip in sugar and place on cookie sheet.
Bake at 250 for about 45 minutes. Check frequently to avoid burning.

Beet Simple Syrup

Yield: 2 cups- excess can be stored in the fridge for a couple of weeks.


  • 4 medium to large beets
  • 1 cup organic sugar
  • water

Cooking Directions

  1. Peel the beets and put them in a pot. Fill the pot with water until the beets are submerged half way and then stir in sugar.
  2. Cover the pot and simmer on medium heat until the beets are semi-soft.
  3. Remove the beets from the pot and reserve to to make beet chips or to enjoy as a slightly sweeter cooked beet, meanwhile leave the water and sugar mixture simmering for about another 30 minutes or so to further reduce the liquid.
  4. Once the syrup is the consistency you desire, let the syrup cool slightly (so you don’t risk getting splashed with hot, sticky, red syrup!) and strain it through cheese cloth once or twice to remove any gritty particles.
  5. Pour into a container and let it cool completely.

    Now for the good part…Making the Cocktail!



    Prep time: 2 minutes

    Yield: 1 serving

    Tools: paring knife, pot, cookie sheet, shot glass.


    • 1 oz. beet syrup (recipe above)
    • 4 oz. chilled white wine – preferably with citrus notes
    • 1/4 lemon, juiced
    • club soda

    Cooking Directions

    1. Pour 1 oz beet simple syrup into a glass.
    2. Add lemon juice.
    3. Add 4 oz wine.
    4. Top with club soda to taste (I used about 2 oz).
    5. Float lemon or beet garnish on top and enjoy!


    • Scott


    • Beth

      Could you use honey instead of organic sugar in the beet syrup?